Archives for : Why Massage

Massage-Working on all Systems

Thswedish massagee Human Body has 11 systems functioning independently and cooperatively to support life.  Keeping these systems in harmony is the key to a healthy and happy life.  Moving through all of your choices to manage all of your bodies systems can be daunting.  In society today every where you look there is another offer to help you manage your health and keep all of your systems functioning optimally.  One of your choices in your staying healthy tool kit is Massage.

In this series of articles I will unpack how Massage has the opportunity to touch all of the bodies systems.  I know it may seem odd that an hour on a massage table even once a month could bring such healthful benefits, but before you give up on all of your 11 systems working together to promote your healthy life,  consider getting to know your systems better through the eyes of a Massage Therapist, who’s job it is provide therapeutic touch to almost the entire body.

The first system and some would argue the most important is the Integumentary System aka your skin,hair,nails,sweat glands, and oil glands.  This system rules because of its  importance in protecting all of the other systems.  Keeping this system healthy can really promote your over all health.

The functions of the Integumentary System: protects the body, helps regulate body temperature, eliminates some wastes, helps make vitamin D, and detects sensations such as touch, pain, warmth, and cold.

This is a lot of work from the largest system.  Putting together every part of our lives our skin touches and it makes perfect sense why we should keep the skin happy and healthy.

Massage touches almost every inch of the skin!  In fact I am going to go so far to say that when Massage was first used over 3000 years ago its primary function may have been to help folks with skin dysfunction or disorder. (this theory will be flushed out in future writings)  But let’s just for now agree that Massage came about in medicine as a way to give people’s skin and the senses attached to the skin a remedy for what might be ailing them.

Even before people understood the vast importance of the skin, they knew it needed to be treated and the treatment was in the form of touch combined with an oil or lotion.  Touch offered something to the body’s systems that helped it heal. Modern Massage is a way to administer this touch therapy.

On my first day of Massage Therapy school, we were invited to hold the hand of the student(still stranger) sitting next to us.  This exercise was meant to invite us to put ourselves in the role of someone using touch to comfort someone else.  In medicine it might be called bedside manor, but for an LMT (Licensed Massage Therapist) it was going to be the center of our professional existence and the hand holding was almost a test.  How did I feel about holding a stranger’s hand?  Could I engage that person with just the touch of our two hands?  To add to the introduction to massage, we were then asked to place our other hand on top of our partner’s hand.  Holding a strangers hand in our hands is the concept for what can be argued defines Massage.

Touching the skin and applying a healthy lotion or oil-Massage.  Our bodies largest and most exterior system needs to be kept healthy in an effort to maintain our over all health.   One other and very important aspect of having someone work with this entire system involves the extra set of eyes on the skin.   Part of a Massage Therapist’s training is to learn how to refer a client out to another Medical professional when or if we ever see of feel something on or under the skin that requires further assessment.

Touch became our focus as Massage Therapists.  Learning the different types of therapeutic touch, how to apply them, and the meaning and benefit of each was one of our primary goals.  Putting order and reason behind the touch used in a Massage is what connects massage  to promoting the health of the Integrumentary system, and all of the systems it touches.

Deepening the touch factor of Massage is recognizing the role of LMT as administer of not only therapeutic touch, but also if it is practiced, mindful touch.  Mindful touch gives the Massage Therapist an unique opportunity to work not just with the skin, but also affords us the opportunity to  feel and assess the systems functioning directly under the skin.  Mindful touch encourages the LMT to quiet her mind and focus her energy on her client.  Working in this way can be a very large challenge, but when it is practiced the overall result can really be rewarding to the client and the LMT.

The skin and its functions are very much worth your attention.  Touch affords an unique look at the skin and all it protects.  Starting a Massage routine for your health could really give you some insight to the rest of your systems through the work it performs on the one body system that can be touched.

Golf Swing Flexibility

Ever since I can remember I have understood and appreciated the game of golf.  Whether it was watching tournaments with my Dad or watching him practice his swing in our living room.  I recognized from a young age the names Arnold Palmer and of course I knew The Golden Bear was an Ohio native Jack Nicklaus. 
This quiet yet explosive game became more fimiliar to me as I got older.  Although,  I never really officially picked up playing the sport of golf, I do totally appreciate the mechanics of the swing.  The amazing way golfers precisely wind and unwind their bodies.  Achieving a physical feat that when done by a professional looks easy, but when tried by a novice can be frustrating and stressfull.  The transition the body goes through between fairways and greens is incredible.  First you are launching a small object with only your body and a thin stick.   Ultimately arriving on the green where your play while no doubt still instense is more controlled. 
A few weeks ago,  I attended a golf flexibility class.  It was so great to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics of the golf swing.  There is just so much the body is doing as you approeach the ball.  If the body at any point pulls out of this posture the ball will no longer travel in a straight line.  Golfers know these shots as the slice or the hook. 
We learned that it is often tight muscles that cause the body to not be able to hold this specific posture through out the execution of the swing ie if your low back is tight you will not be able to maintain the bend at the waist throughout the swing.  
While practice does make perfect if you are practicing while inflexable your swing will not improve.  Only after assesing and treating the tight muscles with massage and stretching will the body be able to hold the swing posture through completion. 
Golf is a great sport and I am so excited to add to my massage tool kit techniques that can help golfers improve his/ her play. 

Move at your desk follow up

standingThere really isn’t any substitute for moving and I was so happy to get some validity from Gretchen Reynolds and her new book The First 20 Minutes.   Now that I have started doing LMT work in the office setting I am really starting to see the effects of desk work.  Over working the neck and shoulders with work on the computer, phone work, and stress really does impact muscle health.  Add that to decreased circulation from being in a seated position and your body might just start to yell at you.  Or my nice way of saying you might be experiencing pain from desk related injury.  Yes you may feel injured even if you just sit in a desk.

Please have a read of the article from NPR about moving in the office and start to move at your desk as soon as possible.

Don’t let your desk get you down!

imagesDo you spend your day at a desk?  Are your neck,back, and shoulders sore?  Do you suffer from headaches?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions you are not alone.  People everyday suffer from the effects of desk work.
Our bodies are designed to be upright and moving.  Sitting,typing, and talking on the phone are modern functions that challenge our bodies to hold positions which over time can wreak havoc in our posture and our over all physical health.

After decades of the business as usual desk environment, offices and the furniture you find in them are starting to change to accommodate better form and function.  Stand up desks, vertical mouse, hands free phones have all appeared in the market to help office workers improve their health.

Corporate Chair Massage has also been utilized by progressive employee health conscious companies.  A 10-20 minute chair massage can be very beneficial for the sore neck, back, and shoulders.  A short Massage can also be restorative for employees, who are experiencing fatigue.
If your company hasn’t offered any of the above solutions, it may be time to start the conversation with your HR department.  But don’t stop there you can also be taking control of the situation.
Below are some desk health improvements you can start today.

  • Check in with your desk.  Keyboards, computer screens, phones, chair height, desk height.
  • Stand up and move around as often as possible.  Sitting at a desk can promote poor circulation, which over time can cause muscle ache and pain.  So get up and move whenever possible.
  • Breath!  This may sound silly, but stress may cause you to not take really good breaths.  So check in often and get in some good deep restorative breaths.
  • Find a massage therapist!  Even a 30 minute massage can help undo the work related stress.

Don’t let your work life have a negative impact on your whole life.  Start today to take control to get to into a healthier desk routine.

Caregivers need Care

Since  I began my journey as a Massage Therapist, I realized there are some really great reasons why people decide to find a therapist and get a massage.  Most people are looking for relief from some ache or pain they have been experiencing.  Others just want an hour of relaxation.  One of the best reasons I have heard for why people seek a massage is because they have become a caregiver.   Caregivers are very busy people, who are giving a lot of themselves to take care of others in their life.  The challenge of being a caregiver is often all consuming.  People in this position may find it difficult to make time to take care of themselves.  An hour on the massage table isn’t something she feels she can possibly schedule into her day.  It is when life is so consuming and time to yourself seems non existent that a caregiver really should find a therapist close to them and make time to get a massage.

A massage for a caregiver offers so many benefits.  First, it gives the caregiver time to relax.  An essential element in helping to keep him healthy.  Massage also should afford the caregiver some relief from the stress brought on by being in the very taxing role of taking care of others.  Allowing someone else to take care of her even for an hour, can really make a difference in a caregivers life.

Caregivers find themselves in this role for many different reason, but at the end of the day one thing is for sure.  Whether you are a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, a social worker, a parent, or someone taking care of a sick relative or friend.  You must recognize that you taking care of yourself is the best way for you to ensure you will be available to take care of others.  Caregivers need care order to keep up with the challenges they face in their lives.  Massage is a wonderful tool all caregivers should have in their tool box.

 

Spring is for moving

Now spring is here so are all of the activities that come with the warmer weather.  However you choose to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures remember to listen to your body.
Be honest with yourself and ask yourself some questions.

Is what I’m feeling keep me from my activity?
Does the feeling interupt your sleep?
Has the feeling persisted and/or gotten worse?

If you answer yes to any or all of these questions it’s time to seek professional help.

Start with the practioner you feel most comfortable.  Treatment should match with your goals of getting back to your activity.  If your first attempt doesn’t return you to your activity.  Then change course of action. 
Referrals are a great way to find a practioner skilled in getting you back on track.  Ask a friend, coworker, or golf pro where they have gone to get help with sport injury. 

Don’t spend your warmer months fighting pain or discomfort.  Get out, be active, and remember to seek help if an injury happens.

Massage for Everyone

You have thought about getting a massage, but don’t know where to start?  You maybe pass by a therapist’s office and have thought of calling.  Maybe your neck and shoulders have been sore and your friend at work said they felt relief in their shoulders after seeing an LMT at their Chiropraticor’s office.  So you know massage helped someone, but your work friend lives accross town and you would like to find someone close to home. 
You have never seen a therapist before, but your neck is keeping you up and you decide to call. 

What do you want to know from the therapist? 
You should ask what modality(type of massage) is the LMT trained. 
If you don’t recognize the modality ask the LMT to explain it furher.
Where were he/she trained?
Most therapist will share this information or have literature which will explain his or her style of massage.
Share up front you are interested in working through pain in your neck,  and how it has been affecting you. 
Time spent in advance, talking to an LMT should help you right away decide if you would be comfortable working with this therapist.

Massage is a great way to relieve body aches and pains.  Finding a good therapist for you can put you on track to a better night’s sleep. So make that call, ask the questions and feel better sooner.

And if you don’t see that sign a great place to find an LMT is at http://m.amtamassage.org/. The American Massage Therapy Association is nationwide and its members meet the respective state licensure requirements, and therapists will also have their extra education listed there as well as a link to his/her website.

Take the time to start to heal that ache in your neck.  Find a massage therapist and get started today.

Massage for your health

Massage has often been associated with the spa industry, as a great way to spend an hour pampering yourself, and while I don’t want to take away from the benefit of an hour long massage at a spa, it is important to know that massage is also a great way to manage life’s aches and pains.  Working in many different environments well trained Massage Therapists bring to the table so much more than just the benefit of relaxation, which is in and of itself a
great way to start to heal.   We also canapply different body work techniques which benefits all of the body’s systems.
Say thanks to your busy body and get a massage.